I cannot be sure how long I slept. Voices came and went in my dreams. And I could not know for certain whether those which eventually awoke me were real. "Trophe, Trophe..." they were saying. A male voice unnaturally wheedling, Kangaroo doubtless; and in her normal voice, Cheetah. My first thought was one of relief. The pun in Catastrophe was no longer operative. The name, though it had probably been clever was too long to be practical. Trophe would do. My next thought was that I was now likely to be released from the laundry basket. As I have said I detest the "miaow" sound and refuse on principle to employ it. But escape was imperative. So I managed a sort of growl, a locution which in a lion would have been a roar.
Within a minute the basket was upright, the lid removed and I felt myself lifted up by the soft hands of Cheetah. "There, there ," she said as she put me gently on the floor. I think she liked me. If I liked any human I suppose I liked her. Kangaroo meanwhile looked down with a puzzled expression. I couldn't make up my mind how he felt about me and in truth I didn't care. I walked away my tail in the air.
Such was the introduction to my new home and the two people who shared it with me. In the days that followed my release from the basket, I began as I inspected my new premises to build up a picture of my companions, their routines and habits. Clearly they were addicted to work. Except at the weekends they left the house early and returned late in the evening. Even when at home they sat in different rooms in front of whispering keyboards and fluttering screens. Around them rubbish of one sort of another expanded like something organic. They even snacked separately at their computers. It was only in their large untidy bed under a soft duvet that they met for any length of time. When they were not sleeping there side by side I was aware of them heaving and rolling under the covers.
The lack of order in the house, which I have already described, was now the least agreeable aspect of my life. That's to put it politely. I hate mess. And they lived in chaos. Might it, I thought, be in my power to change things? It may seem vein to say this but I am a fine looking animal, sleek and well proportioned. I possess a pair of eyes that make people think of emeralds and my silken ears are pointed like the buds of an exotic flower. My black, shiny coat reflects light like a mirror of polished granite, my nose is velvety, my mouth small and discriminating, my whiskers fine and of a delicate blond colour. A figure such as mine, to be seen at its best, requires a spacious and elegant backcloth - a need seldom out of my thoughts whenever I am going to sit or lie down.
The piles of junk that filled the house were a gross abuse of my beauty. Even Cheetah and Kangaroo, I thought, should in time come to recognise that I deserved better surroundings. As I have said the only two places in the house where there was any evidence of order were the tables where they worked. So, taking his work-place and hers in turn, I would sit down and choose a position which showed my profile at its most superb and where the space around me did credit to my proportions. I wanted to make it clear that I expected order and harmony. Did I demand too much ? I think not. I have astonishing powers of silent communication which are supported by an iron will. As a rule I get my way.
One fine day it seemed that my project had succeeded. A skip appeared on the road outside the house. A cleaning lady arrived and she and Cheetah began to clear up the mess room by room. Decorators next painted the walls and built shelves for the books. Kangaroo even brought flowers for Cheetah who put them in a vase on a newly cleared table. Curtains were hung and I was able to spend days choosing good places to sit and to snooze. An embarras de richesse.
A cat flap had appeared earlier allowing me to come and go as I pleased. But it was the other improvements to the house of which I was most proud. It had been moulded to my every wish and whim. Space in plenty. Colour where it was needed but plenty of white to set off my jet black profile.
Only in one respect did I feel let down: kippers. My favourite food of all never appeared in the house again since I had demolished a couple of them at a sitting on the first day of my arrival. I never ceased to think about that blissful experience. I had achieved so much with my thought control yet in this small respect, I had to admit, the system was failing.
For all that I was not going to complain. Gratitude does not come easily to me but even I managed a small purr when I next saw Cheetah.
Unfortunately she scarcely seemed aware of me, as she opened my tin of food and refilled my water bowl.. My purr went unnoticed. It was then, as I looked up at her, that I saw that she had changed. Her face had become rounder. She smelt different. She was less tense, slower in her movements. And then... then I noticed the bump. Her belly had swollen. And I knew what had happened. I was stunned, horrified.
If there is one thing I hate it is smelly, human babies. And as for the changes which had taken place in my house, it was painfully clear that that they had nothing to do with me or my efforts. Whatever happiness I had flew straight out of the window. Have you ever heard a cat laugh?